Do people change that much between teenage years and old age? Yes, they do, and you might be surprised by the difference!

Remember seeing that friend from high school and noticing how much he’s changed? Maybe not, maybe you happened to see someone who hadn’t transformed at all. Well, if those high school friends are between adulthood and middle age, you might not be as prone to notice any differences.

However, if you are in the winter of your life and see an old friend, you might be astounded by how much he’s changed.

Remembering the girl of my youth

I will say this: I am 42, and when I look at pictures from high school, I see a different version of myself. I already notice quite a few changes between then and now. For instance, I no longer care as much about making lots of friends or fitting in – it’s nonsense. As far as physical traits, I noticed my taste buds are a different and energy levels have decreased.

But is there a drastic change? I guess it would take a little analyzing to truly see if people change.

Daniel Gilbert, Research Psychologist at Harvard University, asked,

“Is it really the case that we all think that development is a process that’s brought us to this particular moment in time, and now we’re pretty much done?”

Gilbert wonders if the change is that obvious. Who he is now couldn’t possibly be the only person he will ever be from now until death. Although it’s sometimes hard for his mind to wrap around further transformations, he knows these changes to be true. Science agrees with this belief. In fact, it’s been tested and tried.

Science says that we are completely different people at age 77 as opposed to age 14.

Psychology and Aging published the longest running study on this topic. In the study, it was proven that we are indeed much different at old age than in our teens. The British Psychological Society agrees with this information. Not only is the body’s chemistry changed, but the personality is almost unrecognizable. People change, it’s not in the imagination.

The larger the gap, the more we have changed

The reason we know and understand this to be true is because of this long-running age study. Unlike other studies which tested differences in individuals between teenage years and midlife or midlife and old age, this study recorded information for many decades about how people change.

Starting in the 1950s, over 1200 14-year old’s in Scotland were given questionnaires about self-confidence, moods, desire to learn, conscientiousness, originality, and perseverance. These detailed questions were formulated into one question which pertained to overall dependability.

Then 6 decades later, when over 600 of these participants were located, only 174 agreed to repeat the testing. The participants, aged 77 by this time, answered the same questions. Friends of the participants also answered the same questions. The answers from 1950 and the present time were completely different.

Stability or no…

It seems that personality had changed so much that the 77-year-old test subjects were not the same people as they were in 1950. There is no stable self! The personality, apparently, can transform just as the physical body transforms. The definition matches the Buddhist’s believe that the stable self is an illusion. I guess it is.

So, about that friend from high school, if you saw him again in old age, do you think he would be drastically different? I think so. Although we are inherently the same creature, we are ever evolving within ourselves, striving toward enlightenment, whether we reach it or not. Sadly, some of us never reach our potential. Regardless, we change, people change.

As we change, however, we can learn to appreciate who we were and embrace who are becoming.

I’m excited by what the future holds. How about you?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amy LifeStar

    It is only a study based on sample participants as opposed to real in-depth and truthful analysis on individuals’ personalities (aka: characteristics or essence)!

    People’s own lifestyles in terms of selection in fashions, food, culture, etc. may Change; but Not on one’s Core Essence.

    The truth is people’s Core essence do not, cannot, and have not changed much let alone changed drastically: at least not in the dominant aspects of personality or the way how one does, thinks, and says things!

    For instance, a 70 or 80 something year-old woman or man may, and is “still manifesting unhealthy, maladaptive, and narcissistic behaviors as during its teens, middle-age, etc.—while never even bother to Introspect Self in vital aspects of Life—when it ought to and needed to for the sake of Self-development and Soul Ascension by Deepening and Widening One’s own Consciousness and Horizon in Life; and with respect to the Actual Reality of the physical surroundings and other human beings that one encountered—in all kinds of settings!”

    —By Amy LifeStar, HD & Ethicist

  2. Don

    This is one of the more difficult topics for me. At a more base level I agree with the article. Everyone has to change in many different areas to go forward with changing conditions in life. But people also have and maintain their costumes and masks as they need or wish to apply them. How does one know if there is true change in a person, or if it is a choice due to their advantage by situation which requires of them another costume?

    I have difficulty believing that people, as a rule, grow or learn themselves into a stronger conscience, empathy, compassion, and high integrity. I do know they can present these qualities to others through false mannerisms at least for a time, but to grow them by changing inherent character seems like a very arduous task. I will cede true inner change can happen, but only through great inner growth.

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